Maryland Plaintiff Sues Surgeon and Eye Clinic for Negligence After Suffering Permanent Vision Loss

The liability of certain parties may be a complicated issue in some Maryland medical malpractice cases.  In an April 27, 2018 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland examined the question of whether a medical group was liable for the alleged negligence of an employee other than the physician-defendant.  The jury in the case found that the physician was not negligent, but the medical group, through one of its agents, was negligent.  The medical group filed the current appeal.

The plaintiff in the case was diagnosed with a retinal tear in his eye and needed surgery.  When he suffered permanent vision loss after the operation, he brought suit against the eye clinic and the surgeon who operated on him.  Under the Maryland Health Care Act, negligence requires a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a violation of the standard of care that constitutes a breach of that duty, causation, and injury.  In addition, the plaintiff must file a certificate of a qualified expert and report attesting to the defendant’s departure from the standard of care and causation of the alleged injury.

The case went to trial, at which the plaintiff’s medical expert testified that in his opinion, the surgeon violated the standard of care.  When asked about the negligence of the eye clinic, the expert stated that if the surgeon was an employee of the eye clinic, it was his opinion that the eye clinic was also negligent.  The jury found that the surgeon did not deviate from the standard of care.  The jury further found that the agents and employees of the eye clinic were negligent and awarded $1,000,000 in damages to the plaintiff.

On appeal, the eye clinic argued that it could not be held vicariously liable for the negligence of clinic employees other than the surgeon because the certificate of qualified expert filed by the plaintiff attested only that the surgeon breached the standard of care.  The court agreed, holding that the plaintiff could only pursue claims against those whom the plaintiff’s expert had certified were negligent.  The court went on to find that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove that an agent of the eye clinic, other than the surgeon, breached the standard of care.  The court explained that there was no evidence or testimony identifying any other employee who negligently monitored or treated the plaintiff.  Instead, based on the evidence that was presented at trial, the jurors only could have found the clinic negligent if the surgeon was also negligent.  Accordingly, the verdict against the eye clinic was reversed.

The skilled Maryland injury attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. can provide compassionate legal guidance after a serious injury or death.  We have successfully represented plaintiffs and their families in wrongful death claims, medical negligence actions, semi-truck and car accident cases, and many other personal injury proceedings.  Call (301) 441-2022 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Failure to Follow the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act May Lead to Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Action, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published April 18, 2018

Court Considers Whether Injury Claim Falls Under Maryland Health Care Act, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 2, 2017